“Nothing is permanent in this world, not even our troubles.” ~Unknown
A couple of weeks ago when our Hero and Shero were in town, we three had a nice meal out. I try to take advantage of booth seating for a selfie because you never know when you’re sharing your last meal. I’m happy this wasn’t it, and I got a picture out of it. I call that a win.
“It is in the giving that we receive.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi
Here we see The Parental Unit in their natural habitat. Well, they’re in my habitat but this is their natural state while in my habitat. I made a delicious dinner of roast chicken, which I’d meant to snap, but clearly, I didn’t. I really enjoy cooking, so I like having The Parental Unit around on weekends when I have time to make good meals. Good times.
“Each day I am thankful for nights that turned into mornings, friends that turned into family,
dreams that turned into reality, and likes that turned into love.” ~ TinyBuddha
We tried to have a surprise birthday party for Charlene this evening. I say tried because she was seated at a table for ten…before anyone else arrived. So much for the surprise in “surprise party.” Nevertheless, she was happy to see us all, and we enjoyed good fellowship with one another. I hadn’t seen the family since my birthday dinner back in January, but it felt much, much longer, I suppose because I’d spent so much time with them in the fall. I’ve missed them, so I was very happy to be in their company for a couple of hours. Tony’s daughter, Anastasia, joined us, too. You’ve met her son, JC, many time before. He’s dad’s buddy. Yes, I’d say, all in all, a good time was had by all, and we had birthday cake.
“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.” ~ Unknown
I love it when the Universe conspires for good. About ten days ago there came a comment on an outhouse post from Lori Sanford (center). She found me through an outhouse image that Google indexed of the Patrick and Rebecca Risner headstone. Lori was researching her genealogy. After finding the tombstone, and reading the post, she assumed we were related. She assumed correctly. The Risner’s had five daughters and one son: Daisy, Chester, Minnie, Hester, Ada, and Hazel. My great-grandmother was Minnie. She married Douglas Adams and they had seven children: Eugene, Orville (my grandfather), Edna (Lori’s great-grandmother), Wick, Opal, Mildred, and Randy. We exchanged a few emails and hit it off right away. Tonight, with her mother Sharon (right), we met for dinner. Sharon’s mom, Imogene (mom’s first cousin), is now 87 and in poor health, so sadly she couldn’t join us. Mom and Sharon hadn’t seen each other since Edna’s funeral in 1985. (As an aside, I called Edna ‘Banana.’ Nobody knows why.) We all learned things about the family we didn’t know before we sat down together. Marriages, deaths, affairs, quirks, similarities, differences: we ran through the list. Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is that Lori is also a drummer. Both she and mom played drums in marching band. Imagine three female drummers in one family. How awesome is that? Plus, mom and Sharon have birthdays just four days apart (Jan 24 and 20 respectively), so tonight we celebrated them both. Mom and I had a fantastic time, and I’m pretty sure Lori and Sharon did, too (poor dad was outnumbered). We vowed to meet again, and it’s a dinner I look forward to. Thank you, Universe, for helping Lori find me, for Sharon, for mom, and for a really colorful family history.
“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.” ~ Lori Deschene
Today is my actual day of birth though I’ve obviously been celebrating over the past few days. Besides, nobody wants to celebrate a birthday when it falls on a Monday. So, I celebrated today a different way. I took dad to a series of doctors appointments. During his first appointment at the VA, he regaled me with stories about each scar on his hands. Many of them came from knife fights in the coal camps where he grew up. He was a gang leader, so you can imagine the rough and tumble boyhood that gave him. The most impressive scars showed the perfectly aligned indentation of an Army opponent’s teeth across his right knuckles. I don’t think dad knocked his teeth out, but I doubt the guy talked for a time (his teeth went clean through his lip). At his second appointment we met a vet from the Iraq War. He saw dad’s Special Forces hat and began to tell us about his being a Black Hawk crew chief and taking out Saddam Hussain. It wasn’t clear if he was on that particular mission, but it was obvious – physically and experientially – that he had seen combat nearby. All combat vets have scars. You can’t always see them. The other thing you can’t see is an immeasurable fortitude. Guys like dad who train for the hardest missions are tougher than we mere mortals could ever imagine; mentally and physically. If you’ve never seen two of these guys meet up, the depth of that spirit may not be obvious, but when they get to talking, you get a small glimpse of the kind of men it takes to win wars. In no way am I glorifying war – nobody wins a war as far as I can tell, not even the victors – but I am in awe of the selflessness it takes to be a combat soldier. Our Hero is one of the best soldiers this country has ever had, and hanging out with him is the best birthday I could ask for.
“The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.”
~ Tibetan Proverb
I had the great fortune of dining with some of my family to finish off the birthday weekend. I only get to go to Longhorn Steakhouse when mom and dad are in town, so that’s where we headed. I swear, even though they’re a chain, they make the best steaks I’ve ever eaten – and they’re consistent in that quality. Anyway, Mike Moore has a birthday four days after me (plus he’s four years younger), so I’ve dubbed him my birthday buddy. It’s a lot more fun to celebrate when there’s more than me to celebrate. I can’t think of anybody I’d want as a birthday buddy more than Mike.
This dinner with the family meant more to me than dinners in the past. I’m not sure why. I only know that I was deeply honored that they could join me. They’ve each helped me so very, very much in this life, and always when I needed them the most. So, yea, I’m still a few hours away from my actual birth date, but I’ve had the best birthday weekend I could ever want. Who knew turning 53 was gonna be so awesome?
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale
I believe dad had one of the best Christmases he’s had in 30 years. His sisters love the game Farkle. It’s a dice game mostly of chance. He played six games and won the last four. In one game, he rolled six of a kind. My aunts have played Farkle for years, but they’d never seen anyone roll six of a kind until tonight. He had an absolute blast. He woke up singing this morning and he came home singing tonight. Between that and being with sweet family, this is one of my best Christmases, too. I’m sure mom would agree.
“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” ~ Colin Powell
Another Christmas Eve has come to the Springridge Lodge and these two crazy kids were sporting their matching UK wear that Santa brought them. Then we ate, and cooked, and ate some more. We watched Christmas movies and watched two flakes of snow fall. That last part didn’t last long. Tomorrow, we’ll enjoy more family festivities, but for tonight, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, St Nick will get to the kiddies, and we’ll wish a goodnight to all, and to all a good night.
“Not getting what you want is often a transformative gift.” ~ Unknown
At Thanksgiving, Missy captured everyone on her phone, converting them to the strange Snapchat disfigured bobble-heads. Naturally, hilarity ensued. Our Hero and Shero never experienced Snapchat before. Their reactions were actually funnier than the videos.